Parker Days gives early welcome to summer

Annual events draws throngs of visitors for four days of fun


The 2018 Parker Days Festival came to a close June 10, the fourth day of carnival rides, vendor booths and concerts held by the Parker Chamber of Commerce.

The event drew thousands of area residents to Mainstreet in downtown Parker as the first major event of the summer. Residents from across the metro area strolled the expansive area of activities, ranging from tribute bands to face painting to roller coasters.

The community's flagship summer event has grown every year and has drawn more and more people from outside the town to experience Parker life for a weekend. It's one of Douglas County's largest events, slightly trailing only the county fair in magnitude. Lael Taylor, the event director and a Parker chamber member, said Parker Days is, despite its wide draw, for the community.

“You don't have to pay to get in, you can bring your own waters, you can bring your own food, so if you think about it, it's an opportunity to bring your family and not have to invest,” Taylor said. “We really try to keep it a community-based festival.”

But it's not just Parker residents coming these days. Parker's not-so-little community festival has caught the radar of families in Centennial, Lone Tree and Castle Rock. People come from as far as Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas or even the East Coast to celebrate during the four-day event.

“It's got that opportunity, like if you're going to come to Colorado, if you're going to come to choose one thing,” Taylor said.

With the official start of summer coming June 21, eager residents turned out, some just to get out of the house.

“It kind of reminds us of our hometown,” said Shawn Ming, originally from Kansas City, Kansas. “It's a little slice of home.”

Numbers for this year's event were not available at press time, but this year may have been bigger than last, with more booths, games and events than ever before. The chamber expanded the festival with the addition of a slackline, BMX trick shows and pedal cabs. The newer vendors got in the mix with returning businesses, from local beat-boxers to crash-course ballroom dancing lessons.

As part of this year's “Do Good, Feel Good” theme, two stations allowed residents to get to know each other better and to express appreciation or compliment one another. On June 8, the event opened early to people with special needs to give them a chance to enjoy the rides without the anxiety of a massive crowd.

One of those new draws was the Colorado Avalanche hockey station. A miniature ice rink was set up east on Mainstreet for kids to try their hand at some stick skills and go home with an Avs hockey stick. It was one of the biggest attraction for young kids and parents.

Several old favorites made a reappearance as well. The two massive carnival set-ups, each one sandwiching Mainstreet on the north and south ends, boasted rides and games for kids and adults. In between the two carnivals, local business tents lined Mainstreet and local performers caught visitors' ears as they walked by.

“People who come to Parker Days have been coming for a long time, so we kind of need to keep it fresh and keep it new and offer new pockets of exciting new things,” Taylor said.


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